Microsoft Corp is chasing a deal to buy all of TikTok's global business, including its operations in India and Europe, the Financial Times reported on Thursday, citing five people with knowledge of the talks. TikTok parent ByteDance and Microsoft did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. Microsoft was already said to be in advanced stage talks to take over TikTok's US operations, but US president Donald Trump urged that a partial takeover may not be fruitful, before going on to proclaim rather amusingly that a chunk of the deal's financials must be deposited in the US government's treasury.
TikTok faces a Sept 15 deadline to either complete a sale of its US operations to Microsoft, or face a ban in the United States. The Bytedance-owned short video social media service is already banned in India, after government officials deemed it and 58 other apps to be detrimental towards India's data security and integrity. India was one of TikTok's biggest markets outside of China, and was also one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the country, before it faced the injunction that has marooned all of Bytedance-operated services in India.
TikTok, which is Bytedance's flagship social media service, is also massively popular in USA. The latter has now been embroiled in a prolonged standoff with China. The Donald Trump government began by placing Huawei, incidentally one of China's largest companies and among the world's leading telecommunications service providers, in an entities list. The premise for the imposed bans was growing concerns regarding Chinese cyber espionage, and the way the nation's Communist Party has a stronghold on many private Chinese companies.
The recent aspect of TikTok's potential sale to an American company has also attracted considerable backlash from Chinese state-controlled media, which has criticised Bytedance founder and CEO, Zhang Yiming, for giving in to pressure from the American government. However, it is important to note that being banned in India, and potentially facing a similar future in USA as well, would have considerably hurt Bytedance, for which TikTok was at the centre of all operations.
IF the deal goes through, it will be intriguing to see if the service gets un-banned from nations where it is presently suspended, such as India itself.
(With inputs from Reuters)